Botanical dyes are different to that of your usual synthetic dyes in many ways. Firstly, their environmental benefit as they do not pollute or create toxic waste, secondly, they are beautiful to touch & they have a life and soul to them that cannot be compared to chemically derived dyes. Like most things worthwhile, they do require different care to that of your usual store bought items in order to increase their lifespan, and maintain their beautiful colour.
Most dyes are sensitive to pH. This means that the tannins in the colour will react to a change in the pH, which will cause the colour to alter. This is something we use to our advantage when we dyeing items as the shift allows for a range of different colours, whilst using the same dye medium. This is however a disadvantage if the dyed item mistakenly comes in to contact with acidic or alkali substances (citrus, wine, vinegar, baking soda, calcium etc), as it may leave a mark or a spot. This is very difficult to undo, and if this can't work as a feature on your item, then we'd suggest re-dyeing the whole piece in a slightly darker shade.
WHAT DETERGENTS TO USE
When it comes down to laundering your dyed goods, we always recommend hand washing with an eco-friendly, free from any whitening substances, chemicals and as neutral a pH as possible. Try also stay clear of detergents that contain perfume scents or essential oils.
Most health shops stock a range of eco detergents. We really like the Faithful to Nature range and most commonly use a small squirt of Earthsap's handwashing liquid for our personal use. It's always cleaver to experiment with a few before you find the one that works for you.
If you take the risk to use your commonly used chemical based detergents, it is very likely that your naturally dyed goods will react to the ingredients and come out of the wash a completely different colour.
We do not recommend spot cleaning in the same nature you would try remove a mark from synthetically dyed goods. If you put soap or detergent directly on to the stain and rub vigrously until it comes out, you will most likel be left with a bleached out looking patch in the stained area. If you do perhaps get a splash of food or drink on to your item, run it under cold water and gently, using your finger, try encourage the loosening of the stain. You can then fill a basin with 1-2 tsp of your eco-friendly detergent and let your item soak for an hour or two. Hang to dry out of direct sunlight.
- We will always recommend hand washing all botanically dyed goods, but should you wish to use a washing machine, make sure to set it to the hand wash cycle, no hotter than 30 degrees celsius.
- Wash like colours together
- Use eco-friendly detergent
When drying your naturally dyed goods, ideally hang them outside, but not in direct sunlight. Natural dyes are more sensitive to UV, so drying your clothes in harsh sun will fade and lighten the colour considerably. If drying your goods indoors, be careful to hang them over a metal clothes rack or on a radiator as they may develop marks where they were in contact with the metal.
Just like anything organic, the colour will fade, however with a little bit of extra care and attention, you'll be able to keep your naturally dyed items looking beautiful for many years to come.